As Mama exits, Maggie hunches up and grimaces at herself in the mirror. She asks herself who she is and answers, in a thin, mocking voice, "I am Maggie the Cat!" He straightens herself quickly when Brick cautiously emerges from the bathroom with his liquor glass emptied. He hobbles to the liquor cabinet. Maggie is certain their sex life will start up again. Posing before the mirror, she pleadingly insists that Brick will see her once more as other men still do. She recounts how Sonny Boy Maxwell made a pass at her at Alice's party; Brick wonders why she just did not sleep with him.

Maggie refuses to leave him. Besides, if she did, he would not have a cent to pay for his drinking upon Big Daddy's death. The doctors have lied to Daddy and Mama but tonight, at his last birthday, the truth will be revealed. Mae and Gooper are here with their no-necked monsters because Daddy has yet to make a will.


The second portion Act I stages Maggie's humiliation and her pathetically comic attempt to seduce Brick. Williams punctuates her clash with Brick with two interruptions: Mae's and Big Mama's. Note how he does so self-consciously and how Mae announces that intermission is over upon her exit. Though Act I unfolds primarily between Maggie and Brick, the audience is always made aware of the potential for such interruptions through, for example, off-stage noise and references in the dialogue. As Mama remarks, no one is to have privacy in her house.

Mae's entrance introduces us to the rivalry between the play's two cats. Mae brings with her a particularly symbolic object: Maggie's Diana trophy. Maggie is figured through a number of tropes of virginity. Earlier, she sarcastically refers to herself as "Saint Maggie"; at the close of the play, Mae will joke that the only way she could have conceived of a child is immaculately. The desperate Maggie is subject to a miserable second virginity, a virginity that again stands in the logic of the play against the grotesqueness of fertility. At the risk of being glib, we should note also that Maggie's trophy symbolizes her status as Brick's trophy wife.

Upon Mae's exit, Maggie cracks under the weight of her desire. Though she continually attempts to return to more everyday conversation, she ultimately finds herself unable to bear her envy, longing, and the inhuman conditions of her marriage. She attempts to seduce her husband. Embarrassed for her, Brick fends her off like a lion-tamer. The dissatisfied Maggie collapses into hysterical laughter before her grinning husband—apparently the scene is all too familiar to them.

Maggie can only protest weakly at the injustice of Mama's decree that the rocks in their marriage lie with her. Maggie appears utterly alone and bound to a man who does not desire her. Her exceptionally poignant pose before the mirror and pleading attempt to make Brick jealous only leads him to dismiss her indifferently. Her rhetoric here is hardly innocent. We can summarize it as arguing: "other men want me, so you should too." The importance of the other man in the couple's relationship will become clear in the following scene.